The Reading of Books #8

Since I seem to be running behind on blogging about books, here the new reading sessions I had.

Cormac McCarthy – Blood Meridian 

Source: Goodreads.com

I think I actually promised Selim Lemouchi to read this book he was so very fond of. I finally did after I bought it a few months ago. This is not a happy book, nor an easy read. It’s a story, where the reader feels detached, dehuminized and lost in a desert where the sun and blood are all that matter. It’s the story of the kid, who goes with a band of ragtag outlaws to collect Apache scalps. When there’s no apaches they murder and maim whatever else comes in their path, looking for riches and excesses. The other figure is the judge, a bald, big man who seems to fulfill a more philosophical role if anything.

The book follows the kid through dark deeds, death and despair, all the way to a grim and confusing ending. People have been trying to analyze this book a lot, but I think it’s a story that works more on a conceptual level. It’s not the actual happenings in it, it’s the ideas that play out, the corrupting effect of power and lawless existence. I truly think this is an amazing book, but I don’t think I’d recommend it to just anyone to be very honest. It’s difficult and leaves you with an uncanny feeling. If you’re up for that, do pick it up.

Thich Nhat Hanh – The Heart of Understanding

Source: Goodreads.com

I’m not what you would call a full-on Buddhist but it has become a huge part of what I consider my spiritual side in the last years.  This book deals with the heart sutra, and like the heart sutra is thus particularly short. Short does not mean simple however, because no matter how clear Nhat Hanh is in his explanations, this is dense material. I also have to add that I greatly enjoyed listening to them.

Learn about the essence of buddhism with slow and deliberate explanations that seem simple but develop into ideas that captivate everything. Also enjoy the wit of this buddhist monk, who reads from this book to an audience and then really seems to get going with examples and jokes in between that keep everything light and open. I don’t think everyone should get into buddhism, but there’s practical lessons in this book that are a welcome thing in most people’s lives.

Paul Rodenko – Nieuwe Griffels, Schone Leien

Source: Nederlandsepoezie.org

I had doubts if I should mention this, since not only is it a book of poetry, it’s a book of dutch poetry. That means, pretty much no one else will be able to read it. I purchased this years ago, after I had my literature classes on the university. This was a significant book, because it truly displayed the revolution in Dutch poetry in the fifties. The new wave, you may say. I felt like I found a little treasure. It took me years to actually read it from cover to cover, but now I finally did.

The poetry in this book is material from the early 20th century up to it’s present day, which was the late fifties. In a way the book turned the free-form poetry into a part of the bigger avant-garde waves. I can’t say I enjoy everything as much to be honest. I’ve got my perennial favorite in the poet Lucebert. Still, it felt like a good thing to finally read it and try to imbibe the atmosphere and feeling of the words. Sometimes, when you read out loud, the words offer you flavors you wouldn’t have expected.

Mikael Bulgakov – Heart of a Dog (adapted BBC audioplay)

Source: Goodreads.com

Bulgakov is a writer everyone seems to love but that I never actually read anything of. So time for that then, so I decided to check out ‘Heart Of  A Dog’, which was kindly adapted to an audio play by the BBC. The piece is funny, but critical of some elements in Soviet society. It offers a lot of points to get into fo rthe reader and freedom for interpretation. The pace is high and the adaptation does a lot of justice to the work of this writer.

Bulgakov is a peculiar figure in Soviet literature, being banned and shunned, but also protected by Stalin (who in turn, personally banned his works). It’s intriguing in itself. This book is a very own version of the Frankenstein story, dealing with a dog who gets intestines of a drunkard that played Balalaika in a club. The dog becomes very human and loses its innocense and purity.